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Community Detective

Community Detective Issue #24: Need for Speed World

Real-Life, Sports, MMO Industry, Opinion, Free-to-Play, Hands-On, Need for Speed World, Community Detective, Miscellaneous

Thus far, Community Detective has stayed on the straight and narrow course of fantasy MMORPGs during its brief existence. Sure, I've taken the occasional detour into sci-fi, superhero, and quasi-historical territory, but the majority of the column's first 23 issues were -- like the genre itself -- largely concerned with sorcerers, scantily-clad he-men, and sword-related violence.

This week I'd like to break out of that mold for a bit and examine a title based in the real world (or more accurately, Electronic Arts' approximation of the real world). To borrow a quote from dear old '80s cinema: I feel the need, the Need for Speed World.

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Community Detective Issue #23: Perpetuum

Sci-Fi, Culture, MMO Industry, Opinion, Community Detective, Perpetuum

Welcome to the Perpetuum edition of Community Detective. Avatar Creations' mech-based sandbox MMORPG launched back in November, and despite being relatively new to the market, it has already had time to release a free expansion and a 15-day free trial as well as build itself a small but dedicated fanbase.

I spent the last couple of weeks tooling around the game's tutorials and early mission content as well as observing Perpetuum's community and customer service offerings. Due to the size of the community and the bare-bones approach to customer service, this week's issue of Community Detective departs from my standard data-centric format in favor of some general impressions. Join me after the cut to see what's happening on the planet Nia.

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Community Detective Issue #22: Allods Online [Updated]

Fantasy, Business Models, MMO Industry, Opinion, Free-to-Play, Allods Online, Community Detective

My first few minutes with Allods Online were one part awesome and two parts aggravation. There was intrigue in the form of my research into player-crewed airships, and there was annoyance at the forced installation of Pando Media Booster, a third-party app that supposedly improves download speeds but is really little more than bloatware.

Once I had the game patched and running (and the offending program removed), it was time to get down to brass tacks. Community Detective has largely been concerned with traditional subscription-based MMOs to this point (detours into the lands of Global Agenda and Runes of Magic notwithstanding), so I'm branching out a bit this week to the realm of free-to-play.

Despite its cash-shop missteps and death-penalty brouhahas, Allods has a certain allure, and I figured it was time to answer a few burning questions. In no particular order: What the heck is an allod, what kind of community can you expect in one of the larger F2P games, and what sort of customer service is on offer from gPotato?

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Community Detective Issue #21: Star Trek Online

Sci-Fi, MMO Industry, Opinion, Star Trek Online, Community Detective

Be gentle with me, Trekkies, for I have a confession to make: I've always found Star Trek to be pretty unwatchable. Whether it was because of the low-budget sets or the drunken TV writers prone to cramming every episode full of nonsensical techno-malarkey, I boldly went to another channel.

Logging into Cryptic's Star Trek Online a couple of weeks ago, then, wasn't something I was looking forward to. I'd penciled it into the Community Detective schedule a while back and frankly put it off several times. I'll do it eventually, I kept telling myself.

Upon logging in, I found that STO's source material is the worst thing about it, and in fact the game itself is quite well-made and a ton of fun (particularly the Foundry; I'm completely in love). In fact, I normally leave games behind when a particular issue of Community Detective is in the books, but with STO, I find myself logging in more and more each day during my off hours. I've renewed my sub beyond the free 30 days, and thoughts of the lifetime option have crossed my mind. Enough of all that, though; you're here to find out about my community and customer service experiences, amirite? Warp past the cut and we'll get started.

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Community Detective Issue #20: Xsyon [Updated]

Fantasy, Sci-Fi, MMO Industry, Opinion, Hands-On, Xsyon, Post-Apocalyptic, Community Detective

Community Detective banner - Xsyon
Welcome back, intrepid readers. After a bit of a hiatus, Community Detective is back on the case (that case being the chronicling of various MMORPG communities and customer service experiences).

When I left off a few weeks ago, I'd just completed a whirlwind tour of DC Universe Online -- the PC and console versions -- and this week's issue couldn't be more different. We're talking polar opposites here, as Notorious Games' Xsyon sandbox is everything that DCUO is not (although the two titles do share half-baked chat functionality).

I'll be honest here: I tend to cut sandboxes an inordinate amount of slack because a) I love them, and b) they've been relegated to second-class citizen status on account of the casual MMORPG explosion. Join me after the cut as I attempt to maintain some semblance of objectivity while recounting a couple weeks' worth of Xsyon community and customer service adventures.

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Community Detective Issue #19: DC Universe Online (PS3 edition)

Super-hero, Bugs, Opinion, Consoles, DC Universe Online, Community Detective

Community Detective banner
Look! Up in the sky! It's a bird... it's a plane! It's a disgruntled PS3 MMO player about to throw himself from the top of the LexCorp tower due to a lack of support options! Never fear -- the Community Detective is here, but unfortunately I can't really save the day. What I can do is give you the low-down on my experiences with DC Universe Online's rather pedestrian PS3 customer service and support apparatus.

If you'll recall from last issue's look at the PC DCUO client, I found that the customer service was actually quite responsive (as it has been in all of the Sony Online Entertainment MMOs profiled over the history of this column). DCUO's PC version fell down when it came to usability, UI, and community/grouping issues, but at least its customer support ducks were in a row.

Read on after the cut to see why the same can't be said for the console version.

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Community Detective Issue #18: DC Universe Online [Updated]

Super-hero, Bugs, Opinion, DC Universe Online, Community Detective

Welcome to another issue of Detective Comics, er... Community Detective, yeah. Between punching and kicking my way past hordes of villains, riding ziplines up the sides of skyscrapers, and listening to Harley Quinn's hysterical Mistah Jay accent, I'm a little out of sorts. This week I'm going to mix up the format a bit, both because it helps my sanity and because the current title I'm discussing demands it. That title is DC Universe Online, and I've spent the past couple of weeks playing SOE's new superhero actioner quite heavily.

First off, let me start by saying I've been a DC Comics fan for eons, so SOE would've had to screw up pretty spectacularly for me to dislike this game. That said, all is certainly not well in Gotham or Metropolis from a community standpoint, though it's not the community's fault. What exactly do I mean by that? Use the travel power of your choice to get past the cut and find out.

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Community Detective Issue #17: Runes of Magic

Fantasy, MMO Industry, Opinion, Free-to-Play, Runes of Magic, Community Detective

Welcome to issue 17 of Community Detective (wow, 17, has it been that many already?). Anyhow, this week I figured I'd broaden my horizons a little bit. While I've delved into the free-to-play genre before with Global Agenda, Hi-Rez Studios' MMO shooter is not your average F2P title (there's no item shop, for example, and the game is one of a recent spate of MMOs to start off with a subscription and subsequently switch to F2P). This time around, I'm well and truly submerging myself in a "real" (i.e., from the ground up) F2P game, and the subject of this week's study is Runes of Magic.

Runewaker's fantasy world is nearing its second birthday, and the first year and change hasn't been without controversy. The game is published by Frogster in both America and Europe, and the German-based giant is often called onto the carpet by fans upset with its zealous forum moderation and alleged poor customer service.

How bad is it really? Well the community portion of the equation was quite good. On the other hand, the support experience wasn't good by any stretch of the imagination. As with all Community Detective pieces though, that comes with the disclaimer that this report stems from a very specific set of circumstances (i.e., your mileage may vary).

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Community Detective Issue #16: Lineage II

Fantasy, Lineage 2, MMO Industry, Opinion, Community Detective

Welcome to a new year of Community Detective. To kick things off, I'm going back in time -- way back in time, to 2004 to be exact -- as this was the year NCsoft's Lineage II debuted in America. Why profile the community and customer service of a game that's almost seven years old? Well, Lineage II is still going strong and drawing players from all over the world. NCsoft also continues to pour money and developer resources into the game (the latest example being the new Goddess of Destruction expansion) despite the existence of newer, similarly themed fantasy projects like Aion and Blade & Soul.

Clearly, then, Lineage II is still relevant in some quarters, and in light of that fact, I've spent the past couple of weeks toodling around the kingdom of Aden.

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Community Detective Issue #15: 2010's best (and worst) case files

World of Warcraft, Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Fallen Earth, MMO Industry, Warhammer Online, Opinion, Vanguard, Global Agenda, Community Detective

Hi kids, it's your friendly neighborhood Community Detective and I'm back with the final issue of 2010. Next year looks to be an exciting and somewhat scary time for MMORPG communities and customer service. Not only are we staring down the barrel of four new hugely anticipated AAA titles (RIFT, TERA, Guild Wars 2, and The Old Republic), but there are also quite a few existing games that I've yet to visit in an official capacity, as well as a couple that have undergone drastic changes and merit another review (the F2P conversion in Lord of the Rings Online and sweeping server merges in Aion and EverQuest II, for example).

Prior to moving forward, however, it's always fun to take a look back (particularly at this time of year). Join me after the cut for a year-end recap of 2010's most memorable case studies.

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Community Detective Issue #14: A conversation with SOE customer service

Fantasy, Sci-Fi, EverQuest, EverQuest II, Interviews, MMO Industry, Opinion, Star Wars Galaxies, Vanguard, Free-to-Play, Free Realms, Kids, Community Detective

Welcome back folks, and yes it is time for the latest installment of Community Detective. Last week I did a bit of a departure from the general column format by interviewing Funcom Customer Service Manager Edward Walsh III. This week, I'm doing something similar, but the spotlight is shifting to Sharon Morris, Director of Customer Service for Sony Online Entertainment.

Join me after the cut for an exclusive peek behind the curtain of the customer service apparatus at SOE, as we talk about breaking into the industry, the SOE Guide program, and more.

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Community Detective Issue #13: A conversation with Funcom customer service

Fantasy, Age of Conan, Interviews, Opinion, Community Detective

Welcome back, dear readers, to Massively's Community Detective. This week's issue is going to be a wee bit different, devoid of the community questions and customer service tickets that I usually discuss. While I've examined quite a range of titles over the column's first 12 installments, I've yet to present things from the perspective of the folks who actually answer your cries for help.

Community Detective will continue to probe the scary depths of various game communities going forward, but I'll also occasionally take time to talk to the folks behind the screen in order to give a clearer picture of the whole. Without further delay, join me after the break for a question-and-answer session with Funcom Customer Service Manager Edward Walsh III.

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Community Detective, Issue #12: World of Warcraft

World of Warcraft, Fantasy, MMO Industry, Opinion, Community Detective

Hey look, it's time for another installment of Community Detective! This week, boys and girls, we're going to venture where many folks have ventured before: the lands of Azeroth. That's right, World of Warcraft awaits, and I figured it's high time we took a look at the community and customer service aspects of the industry's resident titan. To be honest, I had a bit of an ulterior motive: I've been playing the game in my spare time, the better to get in and enjoy the old-world scenery a bit before Deathwing does his Pearl Harbor re-enactment on December 7th. So, why not kill two birds with one stone, right?

While the reigning MMORPG subscription champion's community is often referred to as the stuff nightmares are made of, the customer service is some of the best in the business. Yes, yes, I know, WoW's devs stole your lunch money, kicked your dog, and ran over your mother with their gold-plated sports coupes, so how much did Blizzard pay me to say it has good customer service?

Flip past the cut to find out.

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Community Detective Issue #11: Global Agenda

Sci-Fi, MMO Industry, Opinion, Free-to-Play, Global Agenda, Community Detective

It's time to bring the pain, Community Detective style. What style is that exactly? Well, I don't rightly know, as the column just recently passed the ten issue mark and said style is still developing. Rookie jitters notwithstanding, this week's issue is all about pain -- my pain to be exact. The kind of pain that happens when I subject myself to things that I'm not really a fan of. In this case, F2P and PvP (at the same time, oh noes!!).

Anyhow, strap on your jetpacks and blast past the cut where I'll give you the low-down on the community and customer service in Hi-Rez Studios' massively multiplayer third-person shooter known as Global Agenda. Surprisingly, my fortnight of probing the game's community brought about the completely unexpected realization that I actually enjoy the game, so there might be a few bits of commentary related to that as well. You just never can tell.

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Community Detective Issue 10: Final Fantasy XIV

Fantasy, MMO Industry, Opinion, Final Fantasy XIV, Community Detective

Welcome to the Eorzea edition of Massively's Community Detective. I've been spending a fair bit of time in Square-Enix's Final Fantasy XIV of late and have finally managed to collate some data on the game's community and customer service apparatus. Those of you looking for a ranty review of Square's much-maligned epic probably won't find what you're looking for here, although I'll occasionally offer a bit of side commentary on my in-game experiences to go along with the usual community questions and support tickets.

Without further ado then, let's jump into the Age of Adventure.

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